Staying Focused Despite Distractions

Maintaining Focus

New ideas are great. For me, they’re like the adrenalin you feel going through the first big loop on a roller coaster. Ever been on Air at Alton Towers? It’s just like that. The buzz you get from that initial bright spark and the subsequent rush of unlimited possibilities is something that every entrepreneur thrives on. It’s what keeps us going. The only problem is staying focused.

I’ve been tempted in the past to drop one project half way through only to pick up another one that I thought to be more exciting. And, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve been guilty of that more than a few times.

The number of unfinished projects that are gathering dust in some remote folder on my computer is reaching an embarrassing level. I bet some of you are in exactly the same boat. You know what I’m talking about. How did the project that began as a world changing idea somehow fall out of favour and eventually become forgotten about and abandoned?

Well, I’ve been putting some thought into this very problem and I’ve come up with a few ideas that identify the causes of ‘project abandonment’ in the hopes that it’ll help to curb this tendency in the future:

Confidence of Success – Having doubt on the possible success of the current project often makes new ideas look more appealing, simply because they’re new and unexplored.

Negative Feedback – Receiving negative feedback is never easy, even if you’ve asked for it. Having people tell you your idea isn’t as good as you thought it was can be a hard pill to take.

New Competitors – Throughout the development of a project it can be very disheartening to see new entrants to the market with a similar project launch themselves directly at your target market.

Lack of Strategic Focus – Having a plan with realistic, achievable milestones takes a lot of work. Keeping to them takes even more effort and a new project lets you avoid that (at least for a while).

Code Soup – As a project gets more and more complicated, so does it’s source code. No system has a perfect architecture and despite best efforts, I sometimes take short cuts which I pay for later!

A New Big Idea – Having a new idea can put pressure on your ability to focus on what’s in font of you. We can only do so much at the same time and we need to acknowledge that.

This last point is different from the rest in that it is in no way related to the state of the current project. What you’re working on right now might be going perfectly and success with it could be just around the corner, but simply because this next idea for a project is ‘new’, it can appeal on this one point alone.

A Vow To Stay Focused on Existing Projects

Clearly, I’m struggling with this so I’m going to make a little pact with myself. I’m going to vow to complete all of the projects I’m working on large and small before taking on any more. Everything else will just have to be put on hold for another day, because despite how tempting they may look, it’s better to have two finished projects then four unfinished ones.


2 Comments added. Add comment?

  1. Gordon Murray says:

    Would you consider out sourcing some of the older unfinished projects? Ever since I read ‘The 4 hour work week’ I’ve been considering outsourcing almost anything.

    A service praised highly in the book, ‘Get Friday’ is available here: and they have a form which allows you to ask if they can perform particular tasks.

    Jun 26, 2008
  2. Iarfhlaith says: looks like an interesting option, except I’m convinced that the time needed to write up a decent description of what I wanted is equal to the time it would take to do the job myself!

    It’s a catch 22 scenario that I can’t seem to escape from.

    As for ‘The 4 hour work week’ I’m still trying to get my hands on a copy! 😉

    Jun 27, 2008

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